347. Meditation and the Buddhist Solution to Anxiety & Spiritual Evolution W/ Lodro Rinzler

Lodro Rinzler

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Meditation teacher and author, Lodro Rinzler, shares his perspective on meditation, spiritual growth, and reaching enlightenment.

Lodro is the co-founder of MNDFL meditation studios in New York City and the author of six meditation books, including “The Buddha Walks into a Bar” and “Love Hurts: Buddhist Advice for the Heartbroken”. His books “Walk Like a Buddha” and “The Buddha Walks into the Office” have both received Independent Publisher Book Awards.

He has taught meditation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for 20 years and frequently travels to promote his books, having spoken across the world at conferences, universities, and businesses as diverse as Google, Harvard University, and The White House. Named one of 50 Innovators Shaping the Future of Wellness by SONIMA, Rinzler's work has been featured in The New York Times,The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Good Morning America, CBS, and NBC.

He studies with and receives guidance from teachers in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and lives in upstate New York with his wife, Adreanna, and a swarm of furry beings.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Meditation has been a groundbreaking revelation that has anchored my being, diluted my neurosis, and helped me manifest tangible elements in the 3D: this podcast being one of them.

I’ve been a fan of Lodro Rinzler’s work in the meditation space since my stylist days, when I would seek sanctuary in his Mindful Meditation Studio in NYC, so it was a joy to connect over the mic and listen to him relay wisdom about the convoluted path to achieving higher consciousness. 

He shares his first calling to meditate at the tender age of six, his experience as a meditation facilitator who is simultaneously committed to self-healing, and the spiritual destinations at which we can arrive when we commit to a consistent meditative practice. 

For those more advanced in their awakening, we also discuss how not to get attached to spiritual breakthroughs and the realities of outgrowing a particular spiritual path or leader as we climb up the mountain to enlightenment. 

08:55 — Spiritual Upbringing & Work 

  • His recent move upstate
  • Pivoting a brick-and-mortar business onto an online platform
  • Early introduction to Buddhism and meditation 
  • Considering incarnation

22:34 —Life Conditioning & Ego 

  • Celebrating the wholeness we find in children
  • The stories of “not-enoughness” 
  • Defining ego from the Buddhist perspective 
  • Buddhism as realism 

32:10 — Cultivating & Quantifying Mindfulness in Daily Life 

  • Deconstructing the term “meditation practice”
  • The conscious and unconscious ways to manifest meditation
  • Marking progress and long-term visions for meditation 
  • Recovery time from negative triggers

47:55 — Achieving Enlightenment in a Lifetime 

  • His definition of enlightenment
  • From emptiness to gratefulness
  • Finding enlightenment from within 

55:24 — Appreciating Consciousness Without Attachment

  • How “chasing” undermines your practice
  • Motivations for exploring consciousness 
  • Meditation in tandem with therapy to process trauma
  • Managing expectations with meditation teachers 
  • False ego identities around spirituality 

More about this episode.

Watch it on YouTube.

[00:00:00] Luke Storey:  I'm Luke Storey. For the past 22 years, I've been relentlessly committed to my deepest passion, designing the ultimate lifestyle based on the most powerful principles of spirituality, health, psychology. The Life Stylist podcast is a show dedicated to sharing my discoveries and the experts behind them with you. So, many years ago, I was in New York City and I, as I'm prone to do when I travel anywhere, was looking for the local hot spots in terms of consciousness folks, and meditation centers, breath work centers, all of this kind of stuff, and I stumbled into your, now, deceased business, Mindful.

[00:00:46] And it was a really exciting time for me in New York, because the years I had gone there prior, working in the fashion industry, there was very little of that. And I had to work really hard to find little yoga studios and things like that that would sort of be tucked away. And I was thrilled to find that these practices and businesses built around them had become somewhat mainstream. And that's when I first found your books and your work, and interviewed your co-founder at that time, and was unable to track you down, because it's New York City. So, it's really great to be here with you.

[00:01:19]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah, it's great to be here with you as well. I mean, it's true. A lot can happen in a number of years. But particularly, this year, obviously, there are a lot of people who have experienced any number of whirlwinds. And I know that there's a lot of businesses that have risen and fallen, and people on top of each other, and all sorts of things, so it's a good time, I imagine, for us to sit down and talk about meditation and benefits.

[00:01:40]Luke Storey:  Absolutely, man. I think now, perhaps more than ever, so you're a very prolific writer, and I always respect that, because I'm in the process of writing a book. And it is not as easy as it looks when you see people just churning out books. So, you've got six books, the latest, of course, being, Take Back Your Mind: Buddhist Advice for Anxious Times, and what a timely book it is. The first thing I want to ask you is, how the hell do you find time and bandwidth in your life in New York City to write books?

[00:02:13]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah. It's a great question. So, at this point, actually, in 2019, my wife and I moved upstate. So, not that that somehow environmental shift really makes a big difference, but for me, it does. There's sort of a continuation of a theme for me, which is that I had to have some sense of good boundaries. And I think arising out of the meditation practice itself, there's something very clear of like discernment arises.

[00:02:37] We start to discern what we want to cultivate more of in our life, what we might want to cut out. And to me, it just means that there are certain things that I've cut out, in terms of hours spent in binge-watching television, or even just the way that my life is like a lounger in the morning. I've adapted to some degree, so I could spend time with her in the morning.

[00:03:00] But like for me, it's like at some point, I need to put down the coffee, and I need to go practice, and I need to exercise, and I need to write. And it's just a development thing, where I have a sense of what I want to cultivate in my life, and then ultimately, what I need to cut out a little bit. And that's just naturally in a part of the meditation practice for me. And really, it sort of become a natural evolution, I'll say.

[00:03:32]Luke Storey:  And in terms of making the pivot with your business mindful, which, as I said, was just such an incredible business, and I think something I got so excited about, seeing businesses like that pop up. And I remember going there and seeing Sharon Salzberg, who I believe is a friend of yours, speak, and to me, it was like, I don't know, it's almost like when you get to see one of your favorite musical artists in a small bar, and you're like, oh, my God, I can't believe they're playing in this place.

[00:03:59] I'm sitting there with like 20 people with Sharon Salzberg, which, to me, is just such an icon in the space of mindfulness and meditation. And the place was always full of people and it was packed. And there are all sorts of different classes and things like that. How have you pivoted after that business closed? I guess I don't want to call it the demise, but maybe a shift would be a way to frame that. What was the shift like? And at what point did you guys decide to close? And how are you kind of making your way in the world of not having a brick and mortar business like that?

[00:04:33]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah. I mean, it's not like I have any sense of good foresight, but I exited mine from 2019 before there was a pandemic. And that's when we moved upstate, I also left the operational side of Mindful. So, I'm glad I was spared some of the heavy decisions that have to be made in the midst of a pandemic in terms of what needs to be kept, and what needs to fold, and all of that. I was spared all of those heavy decisions and I had already moved online, which it was sort of bizarre, because then everyone joined me, right? 

[00:05:08] All of a sudden, everyone and their mom was offering online meditation, and courses, and things like that. But for the last, gosh, I guess it's three years, I've been doing a five-month Buddhist immersion program. And that's a chance for people who might have dabbled in meditation before, they've done some apps or they took some classes, where they're like, where do I want to go with this? And this program introduces the entirety of the Buddhist path over five months, which is a good chunk of time.

[00:05:36] And there's also a mindfulness teacher training element as part of that. So, people who want to do both or they've already done the Buddhist immersion, then they can actually concentrate on the practice that stems out of it and they can learn to teach it. And that's really taken up a lot of my life. So, even before there was a pandemic and even before Mindful was forced to close its doors, I had already started these sort of massive undertakings as part of my move upstate.

[00:06:01] And it's been really sort of magical, because there is currently over 100 people doing the Buddhist immersion and some of them are doing the mindfulness teacher training, maybe a little bit under a third of that. And they're from everywhere. This is an opportunity to work in great depth with people who live in the UK, who live in Italy, who live in Australia. And I'd say the closest person in the program is about 15-minute drive from here.

[00:06:29] So, it's actually one, it's really sort of amazing that the flip side of this pandemic is that people said, oh, I can actually do deep learning online. And for me, personally, as someone who's been teaching meditation for 20 years, I love the ability to, at times, engage in just offering meditation as a practice, but the deeply meaningful work for me is to put it in a traditional context and really teach on that as well.

[00:06:56]Luke Storey:  That's awesome. So, from what I understand, you were introduced to the Buddhist path and meditation as a kid. How early was that?

[00:07:05]Lodro Rinzler:  So, my parents have been practicing meditation starting in their 20s. And by the time I came around, they had been practicing for some time. So, there was this moment where they stumbled across me, six years old. And I imagine if they weren't meditation practitioners, they probably would have been a little freaked out or a little weirded out. And I was just sitting there cross-legged on the floor facing the wall. And like they opened the door, they sort of closed the door, walked away, didn't talk about it.

[00:07:37] Over dinner that night, my mother asked me, what were you doing? And I said, I was meditating. She said, what does that mean? And I said, well, I was focusing on the breath. And then, when I got distracted, I came back and I focused on the breath. And she goes, yeah, that's basically it. Because I mean, it is a very simple practice, mindfulness practice in particular, where we are learning to be with the body breathing. When we get distracted, we come back, and that's literally retraining, rewiring the brain to become more present.

[00:08:05] But in this case, that was my, I wouldn't even say introduction to it, it was already introduced, because it was just in the environment when I was growing up, because my parents were practicing all the time. But then, later on, I started doing like weekend retreats and things like that, starting at the age of 11, and then continued on from there. So, it has been a very long path, but it's something that I feel like because it was in the environment itself, I was introduced to it in the young age.

[00:08:31]Luke Storey:  Was there any point at which you rebelled against family tradition, and went off, and did drugs, and became a punk rocker, and like stopped meditating?

[00:08:39]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah. It's a great question. I had like a teenage rebellious time. It was a really lame rebellion. It's so embarrassing. It's like wearing a cross around my neck and not like there wasn't—my parents were totally encouraging, too. They really thwarted the rebellious part by just simply indulging it, and being like, you're curious about religion, that's great. Like go to temple, go to a church. Like go explore these things.

[00:09:03] And yeah, it was short lived. I mean, there wasn't much to rebel against. It's not very dogmatic tradition. It's a sense of, do you want to work with your mind and here are your tools to work with your mind? Do you want to try and become more wakeful, more open hearted? Okay, yeah, there are tools for that. And if you don't, that's okay. So, there's really not much of a rebellion and it didn't last very long.

[00:09:28]Luke Storey:  Yeah. I think out of all the traditions, Buddhism is generally one of the most open in that way. I mean, especially in contrast to some of the organized religions that do become very strict and dogmatic, and then have the boomerang effect on the offspring that come up through that family lineage, and go so radically in opposition to it, right? It's sort of like, I can imagine your parents being like, yeah, great, whatever.

[00:09:54] So, what is there to rebel against really, in the sense? That's very interesting. How about, as someone who was what I perceive to be so karmically gifted, and I would think from my perspective, choosing parents and choosing an environment that would help facilitate your spiritual growth, have you ever or do you now have the sense that there was a karmic implication to your being birthed into that particular family?

[00:10:24]Lodro Rinzler:  I think I was told that at a young age, but it's like everyone wants their kid to be special, right? But I mean, if we look at Buddhism, and we think, hey, this is to be taken at face value, that there are multiple lifetimes, karma is real, et cetera. And I say it that way, because it's like everything else in Buddhism, I can very scientifically point to from my own experience, and say, oh, yeah, that's true, I get that. Impermanence is true. Yes. Okay. That concept is true.

[00:10:53] I haven't found anything that's permanent and everlasting. Okay. I guess it's true. Multiple lifetimes. It's harder for me personally to just wholeheartedly like toe the party line, because there's something here where I'm like, I don't remember that past lifetime. I don't remember any past lifetimes. And I know that some people do, and that's good for them. And that's their experience and they might be able to toe this line.

[00:11:16] But for me, until I have that memory, or until I go to another lifetime and I remember this lifetime, or something like that, it's hard for me to just say definitively, yes, this is my experience. But if we believe in that, and it's great if we do, then I think it is really interesting. It's like I am weird, unique thing, and that it's pretty rare to find a second generation Western Buddhists. I think the common term is convert. 

[00:11:41] Like someone is a convert Buddhist, that they made a choice that they would take on Buddhist precepts or something like that. For me, it's always been a situation of like I was raised in this. I mean, instead of saying this was my karmic predisposition, I'll just say it was great luck for me to have this upbringing. Some people will be like, oh, because you meditated early. Yes, but also, more importantly, the view of Buddhism that's often taught is that we are not basically messed up, we're not basically wrong.

[00:12:11] We are basically good, whole, complete, as is. We possess the same seed of wakefulness that the Buddha did. We had the same essence of him. So, we too can wake up and become fully enlightened. This is very different than what I think many of us are raised with, which is the idea, you're basically messed up, you're basically wrong. And the slight distinction here, but is an important distinction, is between something happening, you make a mistake as a kid, and you're bad or you are wrong, as opposed to you did a bad thing or you acted confused, right?

[00:12:44] It's very different. It's less identifying as a bad or wrong being. And I know many people who had that idea of like, there's something fundamentally broken within me. And the men, many of us do, chase after a lot of external factors to try to fill that void, that sense of, well, if I had a better job, if I had a better education, if I finally found that spouse, if I had a house instead of a rented apartment, if I had a car, then I will be happy.

[00:13:12] But what happens when we actually go ahead and get that house, that job, that car, that spouse, that whatever? We then turn our attention to something new, because it doesn't actually make us feel whole. So, the sense of being raised within a tradition that says, inherently, you're whole, complete, good, as is, that's the mind-blowing part, in my opinion. That's the real gift. That's like, there was no confusion about that.

[00:13:37]Luke Storey:  That's a really—go ahead.

[00:13:39]Lodro Rinzler:  I'll just say, in terms of like interpersonal reactions, it's like, I'm basically good, you're basically good, I can work with you from there. Whereas, even if you said something deeply insulting, I wouldn't be like, Luke's a bad person. Like that's not the idea. It's like, oh, maybe he's acting in a confused way, maybe he's in pain, maybe he's suffering. It's different than you're right, I'm wrong, or black and white thinking in general.

[00:14:00]Luke Storey:  Yeah. That's such an important distinction, that I think unfortunately, this is the basis of so many people being turned off to spirituality, I guess primarily as it comes through secular religions that do have more of a judgmental undertone and this concept of sin, which I've come to really identify in my own life. And I was never thankfully pushed into religion, which, I think, made me very open to finding God in my mid-20s, because I had a blank canvas with which to paint or on which to paint.

[00:14:32] But it's like when you're given the message that it's a losing game, that you will never be pure, because you're born a sinner and you're born so flawed, and it almost leads one to take the perspective of, well, why even try? I'm just going to go pursue my animal nature, and just operate in the lower realms, and just call it a day and get what I want, and take, take, take, and have this sort of rapacious attitude toward life, because, why bother? And I think that teaching of being whole and complete is so liberating in so many ways.

[00:15:12] And then, it's a matter, and I want to see if you share this perspective, because this is how I feel about myself, and I'm working all of the time to perceive myself truly as a divine being that has incarnated here for the sake of good and for the sake of love. However, as life happens, you encounter situations in which you're traumatized, and perhaps, you take some of that on, and then you become a traumatizer of sorts at different times in your life. And it seems to me that the game of spirituality is not an add in anything, but rather removing the things that obscure you from being who and what you truly are. Would you share that view and perhaps expand on it if so?

[00:15:56]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah. I think it's a beautiful way of putting it. And there's the sense of like, we come into this life, and it's this concept that I've mentioned before, like basic goodness, Buddha nature, it's not a far out idea that you can be like, I'm going to debate. We see it when we look at a young child, that this is the wonderful prospect of being like a godfather to like way too many young kids. And every single one of them that I have this relationship with, I'm looking at them, I'm like, they don't know that they're supposed to want something more.

[00:16:37] They don't know that they have to go to a certain school in order to be—these concepts have not yet been taught and they seem pretty effing okay with themselves. And that's really amazing. So, it's the sense of, we've been conditioned at some point to that story of not enoughness, as opposed to being conditioned to, you're already enough, you have enough. We're told, well, when you get dot, dot, dot, then you'll be happy. And that's not our natural state. It's just not. 

[00:17:09] I mean, it's like it'd be hard to find a child who comes outside of the womb, and says, I need to go to Harvard in order to actually get by in life. Like that's not what the kid says. But at some point, that might be a story that gets passed down from an educator, a parent, a grandparent, anyone. And they adopt it and it lodges in their head. And at some point, as you said, like the more stories we take on and the more we sort of reify, in the Buddhist sense, we would call it ego, the more we feel like we have a lot to lose. And then, ultimately, we end up defending the ego in a lot of big ways. And that creates a lot of pain and confusion.

[00:17:47]Luke Storey:  How would you define ego from the Buddhist perspective? And I think many of us perceive the ego as being kind of in the realm of sin, where it's a bad thing, that we have to spend our lives trying to get rid of. And in my experience and evolution, it's been more of what I think has served me the most in terms of my own spiritual growth has been really in embracing the ego, and making friends with it, and seeing it as just a part of the human psyche that was put there by the creator in order to fulfill a certain role, and that it's just become overactive or I've become overidentified with it. And therefore, it creates a pathology of sorts, mentally and emotionally, but never truly something that you can absolutely get rid of. What's your take on the common way that you perceive the ego and the way that we deal with it in day-to-day life?

[00:18:45]Lodro Rinzler:  It's sort of like dismantling the—it's like, let's first identify what the ego is. I think I'm a Lodro, right? And I sort of cling to this notion of what a Lodro is, and there is—God, I'm going to be so effing kicky. I apologize. But there's like, from a Buddhist perspective, five ways that I generally check out this Lodro. There's my form, i.e. my body. There is my feeling tone, the way I go about dividing the world up into, I like this, I don't like this, I am actively ignoring this.

[00:19:13] There is the fact that I have this sense perceptions, which make contact with the world around me and make it about me. There's the fact that I have all these mental formations, i.e. thoughts that reify the stories about what I am. And then, there's my consciousness, this amorphous thing that sort of, right now, is directing the sense, perceptions, and the feelings to you. And then, we can move over here and it's somewhat of a puppet master, we could say. 

[00:19:37] All these things come together to form a Lodro. The body is perhaps the easiest one to talk about, because this is not the same body I had before, so that every soul that I have has died and has been replaced over the period of seven years. It's a completely different body than a Lodro from seven years ago. My understanding of who I think I am is different than seven years ago. There have been learnings that have happened over the years that I continue to adapt. 

[00:20:00] And so, it's this like conglomeration of wisdom and experience that's just constantly changing. So, the idea of a Lodro is very hard to trace. The person who's sitting with you now, next time we sit down, I guess, another couple of years, it might be a completely different Lodro then, too. And it's just the nature of the beast that it's I, myself, like to think of me as one solid thing, even though it is completely out of touch with reality.

[00:20:24] Buddhism at its core, Professor Robert Thurman, who's one of these early academic scholars of Buddhism in the West, particularly Tibetan Buddhism, is fond of saying Buddhism is realism. And I love that. The sense of like, it's just the reality of our situation, that the way I conceive of myself isn't actually true. I'm not these things. I cut off my arm, I'm still a Lodro, but only because I conceive of him. And I mean, we can get really effing tripping here.

[00:20:53] Like I can hold up the 20-dollar bill, and say, this is worth $20, because it has Andrew Jackson's face on it. Of course, hopefully, maybe this will change and it'll be someone else's face on it. But it's our shared belief and our shared understanding that it's worth 20 George Washington bills that make that so. And it's just all concept, is what I'm talking about here. So, all of the concepts I hold about a Lodro, the more I empty myself out of those concepts, the more I actually discover that underneath the stories I tell myself, there's a sense of wakefulness. 

[00:21:23] There's a sense of presence. There's an open hearted way to actually manifest. But particularly around this new book, Take Back Your Mind: Buddhist Advice for Anxious Times, the way I talk about it is just most of us just go through life with this veil of anxiety blocking us from the reality of our world around us. Instead of even just deconstructing ourselves, we're just walking around focusing on the anxiety of the day. Well, I'm going to be late to this thing, and people are going to think I'm unprofessional, and so on, so forth.

[00:21:52] And then, it's like, that's all we can actually be with our world. We get in the car, we drive somewhere, we don't know how we got there, because we are so lost in our stories. We're so not present to, actually, what's happening in the world. So, a lot of meditation really is just lifting this veil, see our reality more clearly, see who we truly are as opposed to the stories we tell about ourselves, or worse yet, the things that just obscure us from ourselves.

[00:22:14]Luke Storey:  In that model, wherein you have kind of these five phenomena that are projecting a reality into your experience, presumably for the benefit of who and what you really are, as conscious awareness, as a conscious being, entity, out of the formless, taking form, and then having these sensory experiences that tell you who and what you are, would you say then, it's a fool's errand to try to get rid of that and just be pure conscious awareness? I mean, would you ever get up, and feed the dog, and go about your business, or do we need a certain part of that ego framework in order for us to kind of do our duty here and do the role that we've been assigned or that we've volunteered for as an incarnated being?

[00:23:05]Lodro Rinzler:  It's very easy for us to fall into almost a nihilistic perspective, that's like, well, if I don't really exist, then what does it matter? That's not the point. There's actually props. I'm talking a lot about money today. So, there are two sides of the same coin. So, there's, on one side, these teachings on egolessness, emptiness, that we can empty ourselves out of all the concepts that we have about ourselves, our fixed opinions about who we are, what we need to be happy, and so on. 

[00:23:29] The other side of that is that's like an ultimate Truth or absolute truth. The other side of that coin is more relative truth, which is the truth of compassion. I can say, I am empty of like a permanent sense of nature, and so on, so forth, and yet at the same time, I still have meetings to attend, right? Like I can't negate that. On a relative level, I show up here, and I relate to you, and then I relate to someone else, and so on, so forth. So, we have to balance these two.

[00:24:04] And there's a sense of the Truth of absolute nature, and emptiness, and egolessness, and all that, but that does not negate the fact that we then relate to people on a relative level. And we need to actually be kind. We need to be compassionate. So, that's the grounding element. It's like you're empty of all of these different components. You're not as solid, and real, and fixed as you might suspect. You're constantly changing and evolving. And also, you need to go to work. You need to pay your bills.

[00:24:29]Luke Storey:  Do you find that, over time, through your meditation practice, and I want to get into, in a few minutes, what that looks like, and if that changes, or evolves, or how much you stick to tradition, but do you find that with time over meditation that you and all of the, I'm presuming, thousands of people that you've taught to meditate that you're able to drop into that place of pure awareness and increasingly emerge out of those periods of stillness and go about your day-to-day business of being you, but still keeping kind of one foot in the door of the meditation room, or a toe on the cushion, so to speak, where there's a mindfulness and a meditative way in which you're going about even being very busy and very productive? Have you found that that's something that is cumulative or do you have to kind of relearn that as you go?

[00:25:27]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah. It's a great question. I mean, we have this term meditation practice. Let's start there. If I said I'm going to practice the guitar, there's an assumption that at some point, I would play the guitar for friends. I might play it in a band. Who knows? Meditation practice implies I'm practicing for something. So, what am I practicing for? If I'm trying to become more mindful, more compassionate in the practice, that implies I'm practicing for the other waking hours of my day.

[00:25:53] So, there is, as you said, a cumulative thing. There's sort of the conscious and unconscious ways that we start to manifest meditation. In an unconscious way, I've often had people come up to me, and they say, so I missed my flight back from London the other day, and I was stuck over there, and we had to cancel all these business meetings, and my business partner and I were talking through the logistics. So, any other questions? He goes, yeah, why aren't you freaking out right now?

[00:26:17] These were big things that we now have to push off. Because I don't know. And his business partner knows him well, he was, is it because you've been meditating? He goes, I guess it's because I've been meditating. We're often the last people to notice that meditation has actually helped us, right? Like it's always sort of like loved ones that are reflecting it back, and be like, oh, you're a better listener than you used to be. 

[00:26:36] It's not like if you are trying to lose weight, and you exercise a lot, and you get on the scale, you can say, oh, I lost three pounds. It's a little bit harder with meditation, whereas like you don't always know and see how the practice, as you said, accumulates and starts to show up in subtle ways, where we're just showing up for life in a more present, more mindful situations.

[00:26:57] And then, there are the conscious ways that we can manifest mindfulness, which is as I was actually saying, alright, now that I've learned the skill set, let me see how I can apply it to my dinner with family every night, my morning coffee, and actually just tasting the morning coffee, my shower, actually feeling the warmth of the shower and smelling the smell the soap and the whole thing. So, we can also consciously say, I'm going to be present for this. But more often than not, the accumulation of days, weeks, months, years of meditation practice, it affects us more than we actually know.

[00:27:31]Luke Storey:  That's a great analogy, that practicing guitar, right? Because it's, even subjectively, easier to quantify the skill improving, right? And the friends and family come over, you play them a little ditty, they're like, goddamn, you're getting really good, right? And you can hear it. You have ears to hear it, right? And you go, oh, man, there was this piece that I was trying to pick up that was difficult two years ago, and now, I've mastered it, right? 

[00:27:57] But when it comes to this more ambiguous way of just interfacing with our day-to-day reality, it is a lot harder to quantify that, especially subjectively ourselves. It's, I think, really important to kind of be constantly inventorying so that we can mark our progress. And of course, being mindful of the nature of the ego to want to come take credit, and be like, I'm so spiritual now, I'm enlightened, right? There's that side of us.

[00:28:25] But if we can do so with some humility, isn't there value in kind of marking our progress, and seeing like, wow, when I used to hear a dog bark, I would get really anxious, or someone slammed the door, or tension with my coworkers, or whatever the thing it is that you find most triggering to really take some time along the way to mark that progress as a means by which to keep the enthusiasm and vigor up for the practice. 

[00:28:52] Because it was something like meditation, and maybe you could speak to this, I think to many people, they're like, especially the more A-type personalities, they're like, why would I meditate? I'm not doing anything. And that's really the point of meditation, is not doing anything. So, if you're doing something that's not doing anything, what's the point? Unless you're seeing results from not doing anything, if that makes sense. 

[00:29:19] Not to give a Dr. Seuss riddle on that, but really, it's such a mysterious practice that it's like by doing nothing once or twice a day for a period of time with some degree of consistency and dedication, you bring a different level of awareness, skill, prowess to the things that you are doing when you're out doing things. But how do we keep track? Like what are some ways that you notice within yourself that like, oh, I'm making progress rather than to just kind of going, well, I've been meditating for 20-plus years, and it just is what it is, whatever, it's just what I do, so I just keep doing it. Like how do you keep it exciting and quantify it, I guess, would be the question?

[00:29:59]Lodro Rinzler:  I think we have to take the long view with meditation practice. And this is one of those—as I mentioned, one of the things I do is I train meditation teachers, I lead mindfulness teacher trainings, and things like that. And one of the things I always talk with them about is this, like because meditation teachers ends up on the front lines of education campaign or reeducation campaign about what meditation is and why it works, and one part of it is that people feel like, oh, I sat in a half-hour meditation class, it should feel like a half-hour massage.

[00:30:30] I should be able to walk out feeling relaxed. I should feel bliss. And what they often feel is, wow, I just had to sit with my mind and my mind is effing wild. It's all over the place. Maybe meditation is making me crazier. No, it's not. Your mind's always been wild, you just never looked, you just never opened the door, and saw that. But that's where we start. And then, we sort of work our way backwards into a, perhaps, more spacious and a more peaceful place, because that exists within us.

[00:30:55] The effects themselves are so subtle that it's often very hard for us to just immediately say, okay, it's been two weeks, now, I am 5% kinder, or more present, or whatever it is. But when we look back over the course of our life, it's actually a really big deal, because what we're saying is I'm taking myself from—let's use an analogy. If I'm a boat and I'm sailing across the ocean, I have a very predetermined course unless I go one degree off-course, two-degree off-course, five degrees off-course, if I go five degrees off-course crossing an ocean, I'm going end up in a radically different land.

[00:31:33] Same thing, it's like maybe we don't immediately like level up, and there's some sort of marker that pops up over our head, and says, you now have this much better karma points or you are this percentage more wakeful. But over the course of our lifetime, we say, oh, I'm moving in a different direction than I was before. For me, particularly on the new book, Take Back Your Mind, there's this bar graph that comes into my mind sometimes, where it's like there's one bar that says 90, one bar that says 10.

[00:32:04] And the 90 bar is like amount of energy I put into anxiety. And then, 10%, I'm more present. But every time that it goes down to 89%, that's 11% present. Like we naturally become more present. And gradually, we start to say, oh, wait, maybe it's starting to invert. Maybe instead of losing, let's say we have a stressful trigger occur in our life, instead of losing a day, two days, three days to playing at the same what if stories, what if this happens, what if that happens?

[00:32:36] It's an hour. We lose an hour to it. Seven-hour, we catch ourselves, and say, hold on, hold on. I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe I don't have to go down this rabbit hole. Same thing. It's like over and over again, we're actually learning that we don't have to give ourselves this bandwidth to just run after every anxiety-producing story that comes up. We can shift the focus, and when we do, we actually learn to be more present overall. So, ultimately, it's a long game. Like learning an instrument.

[00:33:06] We don't pick up a musical instrument, and say, I learned it in a day. It's after a year, your friends come over, and they say, you're starting to play better, right? Like it's been two days, and they're like, so you're incredibly gifted. Same thing with meditation. If someone hears this, and meditates, and comes back two days later to us, and is like, yeah, and you know what, everyone around me is like, I'm just totally peaceful now. I want that, because then we can put that in the brochure for your podcast. Like this is good endorsements, but more often than not, it's going to take a little bit of time.

[00:33:37]Luke Storey:  Yeah. I think that's a really important distinction, too, for those that are results-oriented or even for people, let's say someone like myself who's really committed to the path, and self-realization is the goal, the only goal, then the only one that matters. Call it enlightenment. Call it what you want. But reaching the highest plane of consciousness that God allows me and assists me in achieving within this life then, right? 

[00:34:05] But that being the goal and quite a lofty goal, because you figure there's only a certain number of people of humans alive on the planet at any given time that have arrived at that place like Buddhahood or whatever you want to call it, it is difficult to not kind of beat up on yourself, because there are those moments of humanity, again, right? There are those moments where we do get triggered, and we think, oh, my God, I've been meditating for all these years, and I've been reading all the spiritual books, and doing all the things.

[00:34:36] And then, here I am again, totally triggered, being less than compassionate, less than patient, and less than kind to others and to myself. But the point you made in there that I think is so important is, really, in observing, how fast do I recover when I have an egoic burst, or a mind storm of negative thoughts, or anything like that? And I am so grateful to report that I do notice year over year, month over month, that when I do get out of sorts, I bounce back much faster. 

[00:35:10] And it used to be, it could have been a number of days or even weeks that I would remain in a really painful state emotionally and mentally. I mean, once, it caught me, I used to tell my friends, this is like early in sobriety. When I first got sober, I just had so many problems with mental illness, just emotional dysregulation, and was just a train wreck. And I used to tell my friends, I'm in it. We would just say like I'm in it. What is it? It's, you're just in a fight or flight nervous system response.

[00:35:41] You're just completely dysregulated. And I used to tell them like, yeah, I've got it, and it's kind of like catching the flu. It was a matter of like days and days that you would just have to suffer or at least I believed I had to suffer before I was able to come out of it and like feel normal again. Just can't eat, can't sleep. Just completely freaked out by sometimes like externally insignificant events, right? 

[00:36:06] But because of unhealed traumas, and all the things, and being new at meditating, even something seemingly insignificant could be enough to tip the scale into total insanity. And as I said, year over year now, it's such actually a pleasure and a joy, but it does take a little bit of mindfulness to even notice that I'll flip out. Even just a couple of days ago, setting up for a podcast, and of course, the things didn't work, and I didn't have the right cables and the things.

[00:36:32] And I was super pissed off. I felt very unspiritual. Anyone in the room would have been like, wow, this guy is a basket case. And I was. But then, five minutes went by, I came up with a solution, got back to being my happy self, and had an incredible two-hour interview, and totally forgot all about the thing. But I think what's important for us is really kind of keeping a log along the way and not beating ourselves up when we deviate from the path of conscious awareness, mindfulness, kindness, et cetera.

[00:37:07] It's not about whether we fell out. It's about like the game of, how quick can we get back in? Right? And I think that to your point, that's where the dedication comes in the practice, even though there are times where one's passion for it can wane, you don't really know if you're getting results, maybe you're trying 50 different types of meditation, because the one you first learn doesn't seem to be working anymore and this kind of stuff. So, I want to make that as a statement to people. 

[00:37:36] Like don't give up faith, don't give up your practice, because if you start tracking your results, you're still going to be human for a time, but I believe that this is, perhaps I can carve this into a question, is that not the path of enlightenment? Right? Where we're making incremental steps like that progress little by little, bird by bird. And to quote Anne Lamott, the great author, who wrote the book of the same name about writing, but the spiritual path is the same. It's one little thing at a time. And hopefully, at the end of that, we do achieve some perhaps more permanent higher state of consciousness. So, in that, I'll get a question, and that is, how possible or likely is what we would call enlightenment in a lifetime?

[00:38:26]Lodro Rinzler:  I also want to point out, like the story you told is great. It's like, hey, here's an everyday scenario, within which my mind went in a direction I didn't expect it to, and I didn't love it, and then I was able to get myself back. There's a few parts here. One is the distinction between Luke is no longer a spiritual person, because he flipped out over not having the right equipment for a moment versus Luke lost his head for a moment, he is a spiritual person, he was able to find it, and come back.

[00:38:59] It's this like room for the mistakes that opt to you and need to be made in the spiritual path that we all fall down on the jump, right? If we didn't all fall down on the jump, that would mean we were already enlightened. But if we're working towards enlightenment, we're going to stumble, we're going to make mistakes, and we also have to give another grace around that, and say, okay, I get that. Is there learning that is happening here? Is there acknowledgement? Are you planning to repeat this mistake? No? 

[00:39:26] Okay. Great. It's sort of like we learn. So, this is the second element, that when we fall down on the childhood spiritual, and Lord knows I have, don't get me wrong, what happens with that information? Do we seek to learn from it? Do we seek to understand how it doesn't mesh with what we want to see in our spiritual life? And do we move forward with that, ideally resolving not to do it and actually follow through in the future? So, it's actually a really powerful thing that you just talked about. 

[00:39:54] I think it's a core element, where people think they get in their head that if they have a lot of thoughts in meditation, they flip out at their partner or whatever, that they have somehow ruined their spiritual path, or that they are not fit to be on a spiritual path, or any of that. And that's not true. There's the truth that you're basically good, whole, complete, as is, and sometimes, you act from a confused state. And those two can actually coincide all the way up to enlightenment.

[00:40:19] And to actually answer your question then, yeah, I really do believe that people can attain enlightenment, but that's part of it. It's like those stumbles along the spiritual path that we all have our own obscurations, we all have our own proclivities. Some of us, it is anxiety. For some of us, it's jealousy and comparing mind. For some of us, it's anger, that we're always prone to anger and acting out on that. 

[00:40:38] These things, the more we start to know them and become familiar with them, the more we're like, okay, this is part of the spiritual path. I've got to work with it directly. And then, ultimately, the more I work on those obscurations, the more available I am to the world around me from a place of wakefulness. So, even though they don't feel good, they're actually good for us. And that's how we move towards enlightenment. To answer your question, yeah, I 100% believe that people can attain enlightenment.

[00:41:05]Luke Storey:  And how would you define enlightenment from that perspective?

[00:41:08]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah. Good question. So, there is-

[00:41:11]Luke Storey:  I love that every time I ask you a question, you're like, that's a good question. I'm like, yeah, I'm killing it.

[00:41:18]Lodro Rinzler:  You are. You are killing it. 

[00:41:18]Luke Storey:  So far, I think I'm like 10 for 10.

[00:41:20]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah, exactly. I mean, these are all fascinating topics. And it's also, I appreciate, I'll just say that we're moving from not just like, tell me more about like, how to do mindfulness, which we absolutely can get into if you were interested. But like really, like what's the next step? And I mean, that's really where so much of my interest lies in recent years. It's like, where do we go once we've started meditating? What is the path?

[00:41:45] Because you can watch YouTube videos, you can take a class online, you can do any number of things to learn how to meditate, but there's not enough conversation, my personal opinion, of where do we go from there? And that's what we're talking about, because if we're serious about the Buddhist path, where are we going from there? It's actually waking up to our own Buddha nature, the same essence that the Buddha had, the same wakefulness that he had. 

[00:42:05] So, to answer your question, the thing that is enlightenment, as my understanding of it, my limited perspective, is that we are waking up to reality as it is, not as we perceive it to be through our confused ego state. So, I have a lot of ideas about like this house, and this thing, and that thing, and when I empty myself out, going back to our previous conversation on egolessness, emptiness, what am I left with? I'm left with a feeling of wakefulness. So, I can have a glimpse of that. 

[00:42:35] I can have a glimpse of enlightenment here and there in my practice, where I'm just resting with the breath, I'm just open, and I'm present, I'm okay. It's all there. Then, it's no longer a Lodro or another teacher telling you, you have enlightenment in you, it's you saying, oh, yeah, I had that experience, having had a moment when I felt basic sense of okayness, goodness, as is. Where do I go from there? Well, I can go to maybe having two moments of that.

[00:43:03] I can have four moments of that. I can have six. And then, it continues on in that direction. And we are now basing our faith, our trust, however we want to put it in the confidence of our own experience as opposed to a philosophy that someone's telling us. So, the idea of, how do we become enlightened? You might already had a glimpse of it, and now, you're just going to have to work towards stabilizing that.

[00:43:24] So, the entire Buddhist path, as far as I can tell, is that we have a discovery moment, where we realize our Buddha nature are our basic goodness. We just, oh, in this moment, I'm okay as s. I'm just in here breathing, I'm alright. The majority of the path is that we then spend months, years, decades developing deeper trust, and confidence, and relationship to that experience. And then, the fruition of that would be that we actually live our life through the lens of that experience.

[00:43:53]Luke Storey:  Very well-stated. It brings to mind someone like Ram Dass. God rest his soul. One of my favorite teachers. And some of the other spiritual teachers, more in the cosmonaut realm, that used, for a period of time, psychedelics, plant medicines, et cetera, to get a glimpse into what we might be defining here as enlightenment, where you're just in a state of pure consciousness. And I, myself, have had many profound experiences in a very similar way.

[00:44:27] But the parallel there, I think, is like in a really deep meditation, when you had that moment, and you're like, aha, that was it, those sweet spots you hit. As a long time meditator, I'm sure you know them well. And then, there tends to be, and in the same way with these peak experiences some folks have with psychedelics, entheogens, et cetera, there's like a tendency toward a grasping and wanting to hang on to that state, right? 

[00:44:59] Because you've hit this sublime level of supreme truth and reality, and the nowhere within you knows that it was real, knows that you were there participating in it, observing it, experiencing it on all levels. And then, it's kind of like this sand that slips through your fingers, and you're like, I had it, right? And then, you come out of the meditation, or you come out of the ceremony, or whatever it was that took you to that place, and there's almost this longing in this sense of like, now, I got to come back down to the Earth plane and work for it again. So, how do we develop a taste for the sweetness of pure consciousness without getting attached to it?

[00:45:47]Lodro Rinzler:  It's a great question. Sorry. I know I keep saying that. 

[00:45:50]Luke Storey:  It's okay. Keep it coming. It won't go to my head.

[00:45:52]Lodro Rinzler:  Okay. Good. I think the word you use is really appropriate, which is sometimes, we get attached to these things. And that doesn't serve our experience. It's not a great analogy, but it's like having in a drug, and heroin, I guess, has this effect that the first time you do heroin, it's a high unlike anything else. And then, people get addicted to it, because they're chasing that experience again, but they actually can't replicate it. But that's how they get addicted, because they're always chasing that initial high.

[00:46:23]Luke Storey:  I can verify that based on personal experience. Absolutely correct. For you kids listening, just say no. Trust me.

[00:46:31]Lodro Rinzler:  Say no. Seriously. Yes. But similarly, when we have a state where, let's say, things fall away a little bit and the things that fall away, we talk about emptiness, like my sense of self, my sense of a Lodro, it can fall away for a moment. And I have a sense of maybe bliss, or clarity, or non-thought. These are three things that are known as nyam, would be the Tibetan word, N-Y-A-M, which is like meditative experiences, bliss, clarity, non-thought being, three prominent ones.

[00:47:00] And in that, we might say, this is the real deal. This is what's supposed to be. I should always feel this way. And any time I don't feel this way, I need to chase this feeling. And that sense of like chasing is actually going to undermine our whole practice. So, generally, when you see experienced teachers are approached with these sorts of stories, they're like, that's nice. I think Suzuki Roshi, the Japanese and teacher has once said, this person explained a very enlightening experience, really lots of beautiful experiences within the practice. He said, that's nice. How is your work?

[00:47:37] It's like that bringing it back, as we said earlier, to the relative. Okay. But what does this mean in terms of how you show up for your life? Because the point isn't to live in a bliss state. The point isn't to be without thought. The point is to live in awake and compassionate life. So, those states, by the way, are generally said not to be enlightenment itself, but like precursors. So, it's very easy for us to say that, but even if we put it in like these hierarchies, I suppose, but it's not quite enlightenment, so keep going. It's like generally, don't get too attached and just keep going, is the idea.

[00:48:14]Luke Storey:  Yeah. I think those rare glimpses of that samadhi state, if one is aware of the propensity toward attachment to them, can also be really encouraging, right? Because you go into however you get there. You go into a state of pure awareness, where you're merging with consciousness like that. I don't know. To me, after having worked through some of those attachments I describe, it's like at least I know that that place exists within me, and within the fabric of consciousness and the universe as a whole.

[00:48:49] So, it almost makes it easier to take all of this earthly experience a little less seriously, because the knower in you, the witness of that phenomenon is still present. And yeah, I'm opening the mail, and the envelope says, Internal Revenue Service. And I'm like [making sounds] , right? But because you've experienced pure consciousness, at some point or many times throughout whatever practices brought you there, it's like, okay, I see that impulse come up within me of fear.

[00:49:20] Oh, my God, they're going to get me. They're going to take my money. But at the same time, you realize, like this piece of paper is not real. The ink representing certain numbers on it is not real. Even the numbers that are represented by some digital pixels on my keyboard when I log into my bank account to see if I can pay that tax bill are not real, right? Ultimately, all of the world of form is just kind of a projection of one of the many multitude and all projections of consciousness in this crazy interdimensional experience we're having.

[00:49:55] So, there's like an acknowledgement that this dimension is not as serious, and therefore not as threatening, and just scary as it would be had I not at least had a glimpse into that state of pure consciousness and awareness. So, enables one, at least in my experience, to be a bit more playful with the dance here, being in a body, having a name, being a Luke, having physical needs, like being in my animal self, there's still the higher self that's going, okay, you're kind of just playing animal for a while and you be the best behaved animal you can while you're here, karmically speaking.

[00:50:37] But there is much less seriousness about the whole thing. And I think, again, that, for me, is one of the big motivators to keep exploring consciousness and all the ways, so that when I come back here and I let go of the attachment of the peak experience, then I can just be a bit looser about all of it and not take myself so seriously. Case in point being the microphone meltdown the other day, it's like, you get caught up in the moment, and realize like, wait a minute, this so doesn't matter.

[00:51:04] This is like so far out of the realm of mattering at all in the great scheme of things in the big picture. And there comes a lightness and kind of a playfulness to even getting stressed out, and dropping the ball, and acting like a dick for a minute. It's like, it's okay. And I think that really speaks to the importance of commitment, even in periods where you feel like it's not working. 

[00:51:30] In your life as a long time meditator, and teacher of teachers, and teacher of meditators, have you had any dark nights of the soul, where you just thought God has forsaken me, this path is bullshit, I've made no progress, like that thing where you just kind of want to give up on the whole thing, and just go, it was all a waste of time? Has it ever gotten that bleak for you?

[00:51:57]Lodro Rinzler:  It's interesting, because I don't think it's ever gotten that bleak for me about like not trusting the practice, because I've seen the benefits. I do think like the idea of enlightenment, feeling very far is certainly something, but also, just like darkness of soul. It's also, I do this bar graph of like 90% anxiety, 10% presence, and then ideally moving the presence up and the anxiety down, it's not like this is entirely without provocation. Like stressful things happen in life, things throw us for loop.

[00:52:27] So, I mean, in my last book, which was on heartbreak, Love Hurts: Buddhist Advice for the Heartbroken, it was this sense of, so funny, I just realized I replicated a subtitle. So, that was the last book. The new one is Take Back Your Mind: Buddhist Advice for Anxious Times. So, okay, now, I've got a new theme with these. That is good to know. Anyway, point being that I talked about a time in 2012, 2013 where everything fell apart, you name it, I mean, job loss, I was engaged to be married, and that person decided, this was not right for her, and that's totally fine.

[00:53:08] But at the time, it was devastating. One of my best friends passed away, and then my father passed away. This is in the span of maybe nine months total, something like that. Sounds about right. And somewhere within there, I mean, it's like, it all went off at the window, the darkness of the soul aspect in terms of the practice is that I wasn't practicing at that point. I fell off the cushion, so to speak. And I am very open in the book that there is a lot of suicidal ideation.

[00:53:34] So, there wasn't a lot of keeping me going, other than, there was still this aspiration that I wanted to help people. And my first book had come out at that point and was helping people. It was doing quite well. And I was like getting a lot of like, oh, thank you for this book, it's like the first book that's really speaking to me, it's actually getting me meditating. I was like, okay, I was under contract to finish the second book. I said, I'll do it, I'll finish the second book, and then I'll see how I feel.

[00:53:55] If I really feel horrible after this, I can kill myself after the second book. And I mean, this is the logic when you're in these states. And I had wonderful friends, really, who were able to swoop in, and see that I was really not myself anymore, and get me into therapy. And from there, I was able to come back to some semblance of myself, and long enough to meditate, and get back on the path. So, it's a different sort of darkness of soul. I never really gave up on like, meditation is bullshit.

[00:54:27] It wasn't that, but it was like it's so far removed from where I was that it felt very hard to even want to work with my mind. And I needed other tools, which is why I often tell people that when they are in these states, these two things can go hand in hand very nicely, therapy and meditation. It's helpful for us to have someone that we work with, not necessarily meditation struggle. I often recommend people work with live meditation teachers, but trained therapists that can actually help us undo some of the knots that we're sort of forming in our minds. And that can actually then be supported by meditation. Meditation can support that. And vice versa.

[00:55:04]Luke Storey:  Yeah. That's a really good point. Actually, brings me to something I wanted to cover with you, and that was trauma and how meditation can have a strange way of actually bringing up a lot of the stuff that's been repressed and suppressed over the course of our lives. When I first learned to meditate in the Vedic tradition from a man named Jeff Kober out in California, great guy, amazing teacher, he learned from Tom Knowles, who I know you know. And so, he taught me the practice.

[00:55:39] He gave me my mantra. And I had already been meditating for many years, but just kind of picking up bits and pieces of it from here and there. I didn't really have like a specific practice. And at that time, I mean, my meditation changed so dramatically, because I had a very specific practice. It wasn't just like winging it, trying to be quiet, and fighting with my thoughts. He really did a great job of creating a framework for me.

[00:56:04] But what happened was when I first started doing Vedic meditation, is I became, over the course of a few months, so irritable, and more angry, and more dissatisfied with life. It was having like the opposite effect of anything you could ever hope meditation would do for you. And I would go to him, be like, dude, like what's this mantra you put in my head? Like I am going nuts. And I was like perceivably regressing from where I was before I started.

[00:56:32] And he explained it to me like, Luke, you've picked up all these stressors in your life through your experiences. And he didn't use the word trauma. But now, I have a greater understanding of trauma, because I've done so much work around it and talked to so many experts in that field. But he said, so what's happening is essentially, your body now is letting go of all of these stresses that you've packed in it for all of these years.

[00:56:58] And it's the first time that you've really given your subconscious room to kind of come out of hiding, and express itself, and all these things. And it's almost like when you buy a new piece of furniture, and it off-gases, and stinks like formaldehyde for two weeks or whatever, it's just part of the process. Trust the process, have faith. There will be a time when your meditation actually leads to a more peaceful state of being rather than you becoming more of a jerk.

[00:57:23] And he was right. But that led to, some years later, finding areas of my life in which I was stuck, and really having to go into all the therapy, and eventually, plant medicines, and like a lot of deep digging in order to get the stuff that was underneath. But it seems to me now in hindsight that that really dedicated, twice a day for 20 minutes practice that I was very consistent with most of the time, that it kind of cleared the ground so that some of that deeper work could be dealt with, and frankly, had to be dealt with if I was going to have any semblance of satisfaction and happiness in my life.

[00:58:02] So, I mean, I guess the question is sort of multifaceted, but A, I think this would depend on the degree of someone's trauma, perhaps. And I think on a scale of one to 10, mine was probably a seven or eight based on people that I know. I mean, I'm not a military vet or something like that, but I went through some heavy shit as a kid. I mean, do you think that meditation is capable of healing deep trauma in and of itself, or do you think generally in your experience that it's something like in my case, where it just kind of opened the door for me to go do deeper work with other modalities, as you've just described?

[00:58:42]Lodro Rinzler:  I'm of the mind that it opens the door, for sure. And it depends on the human being in terms of what then happens. And I think there are some of us who were just raised with good mechanisms for working with the mind. And there are some of us that were not so much. I'm not going to make any sort of sweeping statement about trauma. I feel like that's something that I only, in more recent years, really started to unpack, and understand, and look at my own, but also just like how this manifests amongst meditation students.

[00:59:15] And it's a really wide range. I also think that there's any number of meditation teachers that I'm friends with who are therapists and are also teaching on this quite regularly, which I think is really helpful, because this was not previously something that people talked about, which is bonkers, because there's a lot of people. People don't come to meditation because they're like, I just wanted a new hobby. Like I was going to bake bread, and then I was like, oh, maybe I'll take the meditation.

[00:59:41] It's like they're coming, because they're suffering for some reason. Whether we would put a Trauma in front of that or not, there's some dissatisfaction, some dis-ease, some heartbreak, often, a loss of some sort. It could be a death, or relationship breaking up, or any number of things. But this is what I've seen people come in. And within that, the meditation teacher can do certain things. They can, as you said, open the door.

[01:00:08] They can have conversations around this, but they are not going to be the person that's going to say, let's talk about your childhood history, right? That's something that we may need a therapist for. And this is why when I do train meditation teachers, I always tell them to have someone's number in their back pocket, because this does come up, that after class, someone comes to you, and they say, I have all these things I want to talk to you about. And we are not trained to do that, necessarily.

[01:00:31] Some people are. But more often than not, meditation teachers are not. And so, we need to have other resources to refer people over to, things that particularly in our own—I will just say personally, I've been in therapy since 2012. And that's wonderful. It's the same human being every Monday. And it's been really good. And that doesn't make me broken. It doesn't make me less than as a meditation teacher. It means actually, I think it's better, because it's honest.

[01:00:58] It's like, I work on my own shit. And if you find meditation teachers who pretend like they don't have shit and that they're not working it, A, they're already enlightened, so great, go study with them, or B, they're lying. It's one of the two. It's one of the two. So, my analogy is like, when it comes to meditation teachers, I study with people, and they're higher up the mountain than me, and they're leading me up the mountain, and then I can work with people who are a little bit further back on the mountain, and I can show them how I got up to where I am in terms of that mountain state.

[01:01:28] And they might even be now working with meditation students who are there helping just get going up the mountain. And that's sort of like, we're all working together. That's also a notion of like lineage and tradition, that it flows from someone down to mem and then me down to others, and so on, so forth. So, I think that's helpful, but it's very different than saying like, I can heal your trauma, which I would never say to a human being. I think it's something where it's like we need to actually learn to work with our minds, but then also, within that, say there are other resources that might be of benefit in addition to and correlate with meditation practice.

[01:02:01]Luke Storey:  Well-stated. Agreed. Do you think you've ever been in the presence of an enlightened being in the form of a human during your lifetime? And if so, who were they?

[01:02:14]Lodro Rinzler:  I've thought that at times, and then I also I'm like, how do I know?

[01:02:18]Luke Storey:  Right. Maybe it takes one to know one.

[01:02:20]Lodro Rinzler:  Right. Like I think so. I think I have. When I was growing up, there was a teacher, there is a teacher, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. And I mean, we're talking old school Tibet, fled through the mountains during the Chinese communist invasion, taught in India, came to the west for a number of years, taught in Europe, taught in the United States, is now living out his final years back in India, overseeing a nunnery there. And soaking in his presence wakes me up.

[01:02:51] He could say very little and I become much more attuned to reality as it is as a result of just being in his presence. I say, that is probably an enlightened being that everything I see around him, like when I'm actually resting in my natural state around him, I feel like enlightenment is possible. I also study, as I mentioned, Kilung Rinpoche. And I would like to think that he's enlightened.

[01:03:18] I'm testing the waters, actually, if I would be honest, to sort of poke at this, and say—not like I'm trying to provoke him in any way, but spend time around this person, and notice how he treats his wife, notice how he treats someone who drops the ball and makes a mistake, notice like—it's only been a few years of me working with this person, and I've been really delighted by his deep kindness and his deep reverence for the teachings, and ability to make them accessible, and his guidance.

[01:03:49] He's been so generous with me. He really is very moving. But I think it's helpful for us to sort of poke at these people, and say, where are you in the scale? And it's okay. By the way, for me, if he's not fully enlightened, but he's like pretty close to the top of the mountain, because I'm nowhere near the top of the mountain personally and there's a lot of ways that he can help me up there. So, I don't feel like everyone I meet has to be enlightened in order to help me either.

[01:04:21]Luke Storey:  Yeah. I think it's a human and beyond human phenomena that I've always been fascinated by, having had a couple experiences in my life. One, I must have been eight or nine, and I was taken to the ashram of a teacher named Muktananda, and I was just a kid. But it had such a profound impact on me, and now, later in life, being many years on the spiritual path, and being pretty dedicated, albeit imperfect, to the path, I just know that being in the presence of that being had a profound impact on my life, that there was an energetic imprint, a shaktipat experience.

[01:04:55] There was something where that energy field got on me, and in me, and it seeded something within me that went on to spur more curiosity, and an impetus to keep kind of going and finding more people like that. But like the attachment to the enlightened state in these moments of samadhi that we experience, I think there's also a risk in the attachment to idealizing and putting that teacher or that person we perceive to be enlightened on a pedestal. 

[01:05:25] Because in my experience, you were guaranteed to be disappointed at some point, right? Unless, I guess, there are really high being, and are truly enlightened, and just in the realm of perfection, there's going to be moments where they disappoint you and you see through the veil, right? And you go, oh, man. So, what would you say to people who have found the teacher, and they perhaps have put a teacher on a pedestal, because they're further up the mountain than them? What would you recommend in terms of managing expectations and things around that nature?

[01:05:59]Lodro Rinzler:  It's an interesting one, because like what do we—again, when you ask me, it's like, how do I exactly know for sure? Do I know for sure, sure? Like I think I would have to be enlightened in order to recognize someone just fully enlightened versus sometimes enlightened. And going all the way back to what I was saying of someone saying, oh, I was able to rest with the breath for a moment or two, and I felt my sense of like, I'm okay in this moment. That person's been sometimes enlightened. 

[01:06:24] Just like where are they in the spectrum then between I've glimpsed my enlightenment and I'm living through the state of my enlightenment? So, I feel like it's on a spectrum. It's very easy for us on a spiritual path to want to fall into this is right, this is wrong, this person is perfect, this person is evil. It is very hard for us in today's world to say, everyone is human, these are human beings.

[01:06:49] And if someone is wakeful and they've actually worked through all of their obscurations, great, study with them, but continue to put trust in your own experience as well, not just entirely give yourself over. I think that's a little controversial, particularly in Tibetan Buddhism, because the whole thing is you give yourself over entirely. But for most people, I think we sort of need to—not that I'm a great role model, but I am poking at this, and saying, I can learn from this person, I can benefit from this person, I'm going to also hold on to my own understanding and not just do everything this person says until I'm fully sure that this is an enlightened being.

[01:07:26] And once you're fully sure, sure, give yourself over and follow the instruction, great. But for many of us, I think it's okay to hold a sense of cynicism, and not just cynicism for cynicism's sake, but like humanity. Like this is a human. They're working on themselves. And the question I often pose in many situations is, apply it here, is this person in their teachings leading me further towards my own wakefulness or further towards my confusion?

[01:07:55] And we can use that question as a barometer for any number of things, but I think particularly when we study with people, it's helpful to just say, I mean, if they're moving me closer to my wakefulness, then it's okay for me to keep studying with them and to recognize the humanity, and not idolism. And if I'm noticing that I'm more frustrated and I'm more angry all the time, and maybe this is not the right person for me, maybe I should study with someone else.

[01:08:17]Luke Storey:  Very well-stated. Yeah. And in my own experience, too, it's like there are, you get on with the teacher—maybe this analogy might serve the point. So, you're in the basement, right? You're in lower states of consciousness and you happen to meet a teacher there who has the ability to take you up a few floors. I've experienced where I've met someone, and from my perspective, where I was on the scale, let's just use kind of a scale of consciousness, they were an enlightened being, okay, comparatively.

[01:08:48] But then, we keep doing our work. I keep doing the work. I follow their teachings. And then, at a certain point, I don't know if this is the right way to say it, but it's almost like they got off the elevator and sort of got stuck at a certain floor for whatever reason. It was just not in their interest or karma to keep going. And they sort of got crystallized and stuck to a certain level.

[01:09:07] And I had to let go of my attachment to them as my teacher, and keep going, and keep my elevator moving, and then a couple floors up, I meet another teacher that has a different level of understanding or a different perspective, a different set of tools or teachings, modalities, et cetera, that I then adopt. And that takes me a bit higher and higher.

[01:09:26] But it seems like the way different teachings, and books, and teachers come into our lives in this experiences, some of them are only meant to be there for a short period to kind of get us through a certain stuck spot or a sucky spot, too. But it doesn't necessarily mean that one is going to have like one and only teacher for the rest of their days on the spiritual path. Have you had the experience where different teachings have served you for a period, and then you sort of find yourself discarding them, and moving on to something different?

[01:09:55]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah. I think I stay a part of me, even if I have moved on from studying with the teacher, which has happened in the past, then it's not like I can sort of separate out to some degree. It's like, well, there are many things that were actually helpful that I learned under this person and I want to continue to carry that with me. I sound like that goes out the window, the training that I received.

[01:10:14]Luke Storey:  Right. When I say discard, I guess to, let's say, integrate. I've integrated that teaching, added the good parts of it to my arsenal, and then keep going, and someone else presents itself.

[01:10:24]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah. I think that's a really nice way of saying it. And only we will know the best way to discern what the right path is for us. And it is so personal. And as you said, it's like, oh, this person can take me to a certain point, and then I feel a real desire to study with another person, and that's okay. And you'll find with good spiritual teachers, they understand that, that it's just at some point, no, like this has been super helpful, thank you for getting me this far, and now, I'm going to move on. That's great. I think that's really helpful for many people to be encouraged.

[01:10:58]Luke Storey:  And I would say if the teacher has a big problem with that, they might be a cult leader, not a teacher, right? The last question I want to ask you, and then we'll wrap it up is, how would you help someone avoid one of the traps along the way? And that is once you start to achieve a state of higher consciousness, or move closer toward enlightenment, grow spiritually, et cetera, how does one guard against the ego's propensity to come and sort of create this false identity around being a spiritual person and all the accoutrement that comes with that, the beads, the orange robes, the title that you've created for yourself? How can one progress yet maintain humility?

[01:11:44]Lodro Rinzler:  I think this is where it's helpful to have, like a spiritual friend within Buddhism, we often talk about like three different types of teachers. One is an instructor. You go and you take, right now, I'm launching a five-week free class based on this new book, Take Back Your Mind. So, it's a class on anxiety. And for the 500-plus people that have signed up so far, it's like I'm the instructor of that, right? Like I offer teachings, but I actually don't know them very well, because there are so many of them.

[01:12:14] And I can try and respond to some emails and things like that, which I will, but it's not like I get to know them well. Whereas, when people join the online community and they work with me one on one, over the months that follow, we meet once a month, like I get to know them a little bit. And in that role, I'm more of a spiritual friend. The Sanskrit term would be kalyana mitra. So, spiritual friend is someone who you actually start to talk about your practice and your study with regularly.

[01:12:41] And they start to notice some of the proclivities that you might have. And they might even start to say, you're doing this thing again. And hopefully, in a gentle way, gentle as well. But there's stuff like, can we look at this pattern that has been playing out here? And then, the third type would be the Teacher, like the guru, which is the enlightened being that can point out our things.

[01:13:03] But I think many people want the idea of the guru, but they are disappointed by the reality, because you don't get to see the guru very often. They don't mind your business as much, I would say. But in any case, even if, for me personally, it's like I have teachers that are guru level, but then I also have a lot of spiritual friends, mentors that I can call up and talk about something.

[01:13:25] And it's been, longest relationship, there's probably 16 years or something like that. And it's a lot of time for someone to have known me, and to see my patterns, and to sort of say, oh, look, you're doing the thing, huh? So, I think it's good for us to have people in our community, sometimes, called sangha that can call us out on some of the shit that we are trying to pull. It's helpful to have colleagues, friends like that.

[01:13:49]Luke Storey:  Great advice. And in closing, who are three teachers or teachings that have influenced your life and your work that you might share with us?

[01:13:56]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah. I think Kilung Rinpoche is not a very well-known teacher. And he's so humble, and so sweet, and he splits his time between Tibet and the Pacific Northwest. And I think he's a really—he's written a book called The Relaxed Mind, which is a beautiful meditation manual. And he leads a guided meditation that's completely free every Monday. Like there are ways for people to connect with him on Zoom in this case. Thich Nhat Hahn has influenced my work beyond belief, even though I've never met him.

[01:14:25] But I've read everything he's ever done and most of what he's doing. I imagine there are probably some things I haven't gotten access to. And studied his work, his teachings, his talks, and things like that. And he's influenced me to such an extreme degree. And then, perhaps under that, more recently, Dr. Larry Ward is someone who I've recently, last six, nine months, started studying more of his teachings, and he's a student of Thich Nhat Hahn. And he had a book that come out, Healing America's Racial Karma, which is, I think that's the title. 

[01:14:57] Yeah. Or, maybe it's just America's Racial Karma, but it's a very pithy and lovely book. And his work overall, I just find him to be very moving as a teacher. And one of the things that I find moving about him, this was supposed to be quick and I'm not being quick, is that he exudes joy and he makes very particular parts of his life very intentional practices around appreciating his circumstances and finding joy. And I think that's such a beautiful thing to be doing at this time. 

[01:15:31]Luke Storey:  Absolutely. Well, thanks for the tips. And we'll put all of those in the show notes, at least the ones we can pronounce and find. I'm glad you're like, and he has a book. I'm like, okay, good, we can find that. Thank you so much for your time today, man. It's been really great to finally get to know you a bit more and share some ideas. I love conversations like this. I find them to be so beneficial to me, and of course, to the audience as well. So, in closing, where can we find you? Your website, social media, all of that stuff for people that want to devour your books, and join some of your online communities and such, where can we find you?

[01:16:03]Lodro Rinzler:  Yeah. Great question. So, a nice thing about having a name like Lodro Rinzler is that you are easily found. So, I am at lodrorinzler.com, and on Instagram, @LodroRinzler, in Facebook, in Twitter, and so on. So, it's easy to find me. And I always tell people that like even lodrorinzler@gmail.com, it's like, there's not like a secret assistant that's answering all my emails for me. It's me. I'm just a human being doing what I can to make these teachings accessible. And so, when you reach out through the website or whatever, it's me that you're talking to.

[01:16:34]Luke Storey:  Wow. Well, I've heard you talk about that before, but it was some time ago, and I thought, I wonder, his platform is growing as they tend to do, I said, I wonder if he still does that, because I probably get fewer emails than you, and I do my best to acknowledge as many of them, but man, that can be a lot. So, I commend you for your dedication to the tribe. Alright, my friend. I'm going to let you go. Thank you so much. And best of luck with the new book. And I look forward to speaking to you again.

[01:17:06]Lodro Rinzler:  Thank you so much, Luke. Thanks for having me here.



Cacao Bliss
Link to the Search Page
Link to the Search Page
Just Thrive | Probiotics
Link to the Search Page

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information provided by lukestorey.com is not a substitute for direct, individual medical treatment or advice. It is your responsibility, along with your healthcare providers, to make decisions about your health. Lukestorey.com recommends consulting with your healthcare providers for the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or condition. The products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

continue the discussion at the life stylist podcast facebook group. join now.